Right off the bat, this book is not a scholarly work on comparative religion; not by a long shot. It was never meant to be such. If you’re looking for a serious [and quite frankly, tedious] history of the world’s major religions, look elsewhere.
The light-hearted, often highly hilarious approach to the heavy subject matter earns this book my recommendation. Even the sub-title is ingenious.
As I mentioned earlier, the book is pretty hilarious, especially the treatment of Judaism and Christianity. Be warned though, that some of the humour will offend, maybe not the atheists [who no doubt will find a great deal to enthuse over], but those who still harbour delusions about religion, and off course the mother grundies.
I was a tad disappointed though that Hopper did not give Islam in particular, a good what-for, but tended to approach it with a good deal of circumspection. To be fair to him though, he did declare upfront that he did not have the budget for personal protection that author Salman Rushdie has at his disposal. And to be fairer still, perhaps this declaration in itself tells us all we need to know about the religion of Islam.
I also felt that he rushed through the history of Hinduism and Buddhism, but again, to be honest, I really did not want to read too deeply about the 330 million gods of Hinduism and the non-religious status of Buddhism.
Overall though, the book presents enough information to satisfy both the casual reader and those curious about the other major religions, enough crude humour for the atheist, and a lot to think about for the religious.
My favorite passages from the book:
In the beginning, we humans lived in the wild and ate whatever was slower or stupider than we were. At this time, we invented a thing called a “god.” The god was made from the mightiest elements mankind could see: fire, thunder, lightning… all the big scary stuff we didn’t understand but knew was powerful.
Abraham did indeed have seven sons. At least that’s what his wife Sarah, told him. The fact that he was way too old to be fathering children at the time didn’t seem to hinder him. I figure he was either naive as hell about his wife’s activities or he had something in his diet that the Ovaltine people would love to get their hands on.
The thing is, the Ark’s not lost. Never has been. About the only people who ever thought it lost were those that only looked to the Bible for information, ignoring the fact that there’s a whole planet full of books out there that also recorded history.
The idea of kosher foods had existed before this, but Jabna was where the Rabbis set it in stone and made for damned sure that every generation of Jews from then to now were subjected to boiled dough and potato pancakes. (it’s amazing what people will eat when you tell them it’ll get them into Heaven.)
History shows quite clearly that wealth sustains a people a hell of a lot better than a god does. The Intifida.
So, for those Christian readers who have not yet thrown this book into the garbage, here we go: the Gospel According to Will. The absolutely non-authoritative, non-inspired account of the life of JC. (Gospel, by the way, is Greek for “good news.” The original gospels were the “good news” given by the disciples to the Christians in places like Rome, Carthage, etc. My gospel is good news too. It’s just not good news for the Christians.)
And the power of Yahweh did go into her and did make her pregnant outside of wedlock. Her fiancée at the time did see this and did think “She did screw around on me, the stupid little trollop.” But then an angel of God did come to him, saying “Joseph, don’t worry about it. It was God who made her pregnant.” And Joseph accepted this, thinking “Oh great, I get to marry this women and for the rest of our lives I have to live with the fact that her first lover was Yahweh. Even if I do really well in bed and I think she’s really enjoying it, she’s going to be screaming “Oh God, Oh God! and I’ll never know if it’s me of Him that she’s yelling about.”
Martin Luther was born in 1483. He graduated from Erfurt University in 1505 with both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. He had no major, and his education ran the gamut of courses: math, philosophy, languages, that sort of thing. He was raised, like the rest of Europe at the time, as a good Catholic. This meant he never saw the Bible.
Now, as near as we can figure, these original Indus Valley folks were an easy-going lot that farmed and honored all things. They weren’t war-like, and had no ideas of conquest or domination. Instead, they lived quiet lives that genuinely reflected a willingness to get along and care for the people and land around them. Naturally then, they were slaughtered mercilessly and wiped off the face of the Earth.
Here we get around to the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a really long, drawn out poetic epic that I highly recommend you never read. The plot sucks and frankly so do the characters, Krishna included.
The Dali Lama was born in Tibet. And China. And Korea. Before that he was born in India and, some think, Atlantis. The guy gets around.
In the end, despite the books flaws, I enjoyed it so much so that I’m going to get Hopper’s other book in this series “The Heathen’s Guide to Christmas,” just in time for the silly season.